Fiddle woes

Fiddle woes

I think I figured out why the fiddle is called the fiddle. The reason is because you have to tinker or "fiddle" with it in order to get the thing in tune. Especially during the fall and winter months. Something keeps messing with it and I don’t know what it is

Re: Fiddle woes

Here’s how I minimize my time spent tuning: 1- Internally geared pegs (I use Wittners, others swear by Perfections). You can actually pick up the fiddle and play, usually. My strings often go a tad sharp, depending how humid it gets, but mostly they stay relative to each other.
2- Humidifiers, all year. Once a week, I pull out all my fiddles and soak the little rubber wormies, wipe off the excess water, and put them back in. While the "Dampits" (brand name) are soaking, I check each fiddle for loose seams, warping bridges, etc.
3- Keep them in the case when not in use, and well away from the woodstove, heat register, etc. Humidity, or lack thereof, is usually what messes with your tuning. Nothing dries out a fiddle like having the hot air/cold air blowing on it.
4- I use steel-core strings, such as Precisions or Prims. I like the sound of Dominants, but the steels seem much more stable to me.
If you don’t want to go the expense of Wittner pegs, be sure your standard pegs are really well fitted. Go to a seriously competent luthier (not the local guitar store) to get them checked. My repair guys have always warned, "Stay away from peg drops/peg soap/etc.!" YMMV happy fiddling!

Re: Fiddle woes

"Something keeps messing with it and I don’t know what it is"

…. it is a wooden instrument, that’d be the change in temperature and humidity. You live in Ohio if memory serves, so you’ll pretty much be stuck with this issue.
The good news is, you’ll get good at tuning!

Re: Fiddle woes

Oh I’m getting pretty good tuning experience lol. This is like the third time all of my strings just went limp

Re: Fiddle woes

It sounds like your pegs are slipping. Eventually after all this your soundpost may fall, and/or your bridge will tip over from the strings pulling it one way or another. One reason the pegs slip is because the wood is shrinking due to lack of humidity.

There are plenty of ways to humidify your instrument.

Another way to help the pegs stay "in shape" is to get some peg dope
https://www.amazon.com/The-Original-Hill-Peg-Compound/dp/B000F3KSOU

Re: Fiddle woes

Going slightly out of tune, like +/-30 cents, is normal. Going more than a semitone out of tune is a sign that intervention is required, absent a reasonable explanation like dropping, a trip on an airplane, etc.

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Re: Fiddle woes

I think the pegs are slipping, and it annoys the h*ck out of me.

Re: Fiddle woes

And before you go wrapping my knuckles, Jeremy. It clearly says H E C K.

Re: Fiddle woes

Try some rosewood pegs on your fiddle. Rosewood tends to contract and expand about the same as maple, meaning that they don’t slip if the maple of your pegbox contracts or expands from humidity or temperature, which it sounds like it probably is if it only happens at certain times of the year.

Re: Fiddle woes

I think beginners just turn the pegs and expect them to hold, but they won’t. You have to apply some pressure as you turn, so prop the fiddle upright on your lap and carefully push in the peg as you turn it while counter-balancing it by pressing the palm of your other hand against the scroll. Then fine-adjust with the tuners on the tailpiece. Orchestra players do this one-handed but they probably have very well-maintained violins and a lifetime of training and practice. I’m just an amateur but I often help other people stop their pegs slipping. The other thing is make sure the strings are wound properly on the pegs. In the peg box you should see them wound away from the tip of the peg towards the outside not the inside. That tends to pull the peg inwards rather than loosen it. There ‘s a diagram on this page https://store.fisherviolins.com/How_To_Change_Violin_Strings_a/260.htm Good luck!

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Will have to agree with Mackeagan in regards to geared tuning pegs. I wouldn’t be without mine and can’t understand why they don’t come standard on all fiddles as they make much more sense. I can leave my fiddle in it’s case for a week and seldom need to tune more than minor fine tuning

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Would folks here say geared tuning pegs are significantly better than fine tuners on the tailpiece? If so, why? Are the geared pegs worth the money and trouble of having them installed?

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I bought 4 Wittner geared pegs about a month ago ($65 for all four) and it took me about an hour and a half to install them, that included cutting off the extra length and buffing. If I had left them “original length” the whole switch for all four strings to Wittner’s would have taken about 20 minutes. It is only an aesthetic difference between leaving them the original length or cutting off the extra bit, it makes no discernible sound difference. With the Wittner’s the fiddle sound is better and it allowed me to get rid of the e string tuner. I’m sorry I waited 4 years fussing with the standard pegs.

Tuning now takes about 30 seconds total, not the old original peg way: turn/click - too sharp now reverse/click and now flat (repeat 6-8 times on each string) searching for the Goldilocks “click” that gets it just right. I tried all the peg drops, spit and other concoctions and even had the regular pegs refitted at the luthier but that only lasted till the next season change then back to “click tuning” as I called it.

Once you go to the dark side of geared pegs you will never go back!

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I agree with James Stevens. I have 3 violins, all fitted with Knilling Perfection pegs, and they are perfect! The Wittners are very good, too.

To me, tuning is something that should be easy. You should be able to bow the string while tuning it, and with traditional well-fitting pegs, it’s reasonable easy, although you have to press the peg in as you turn it. With Knillings or Wittners, there’s no need to press them in while turning (although you can initially press the peg in to get a stiffer turning action if you want).

Once you’ve got your A in tune, it only takes seconds to tune the rest in rolling fifths.

I think it’s safe to say that if you go for the geared pegs, they will last a lifetime (I’ve had mine on my main violin for 10 years now, with no problems at all).

Also (as James said) you don’t need an E-tuner on the tailpiece (or in fact any tuners at all).